‘Shekar’ movie review: This slow-burn crime drama has its moments

Dr Rajashekar in ‘Sekhar’

Dr Rajashekar in ‘Sekhar’

How much you are likely to enjoy Shekhar might be proportional to whether you have watched its 2018 Malayalam original, Joseph, starring Joju George. Faithful, scene-by-scene remakes have lost their sheen in the OTT era when the originals are available with subtitles. However, if you haven’t watched Joseph, Shekar has an interesting story to narrate. A story that is also a character study of the protagonist. Director Jeevitha Rajashekar steers clear of mainstream Telugu cinema trappings and stays true to what the story requires. She and the team also deserve an appreciation for not trying to change the ending. 

Shekar is a family project involving Dr Rajashekar, his wife Jeevitha and daughter Shivani. Yet, it does not get indulgent. The father-daughter portions get a few more minutes than in the original but without tampering with the proceedings.

Jeevitha sets the story in the idyllic Araku Valley. The unhurried, less populated space befits the story. We see Dr Rajashekar as Shekar, a middle-aged loner who is wasting away his days in the company of smoke and alcohol. An erstwhile cop, his crime-solving instincts remain sharp and intact. A crime he solves in the opening minutes, delineating the how and who, befit the small-town setting and almost has that Sherlock Holmes method to it.

The story takes off when Shekar smells something fishy after his wife’s death and digs deeper, and realises that another loss from the past has also been murky.

Cast: Dr Rajashekar, Aathmeeya Rajan, Muskaan Khubchandhani, Shivani Rajashekar
Direction: Jeevitha Rajashekar
Music: Anup Rubens

The modus operandi of the crime gets unravelled in the second and third acts of the narrative. Before that, there are other layers to peel. The non-linear narrative goes back and forth to piece together what has made Shekar a brooding recluse. He carries the burden of the past, consumed by guilt that he did not act in time to save a loved one; that in turn unsettles his home.

In the present day, he shares a great equation with his friends who always stand by him. The more interesting and subtly explored rapport is the one he has with Mallikarjun (Kishore in a restrained, effective portrayal), his former wife’s second husband. The quiet respect the two have for each other shows their inherent maturity. 

Shekar largely sticks to the beats of the original, recreating camera angles and even many of the dialogues. But unlike the original, it does not hold intrigue since not all the actors do justice to their parts. While Dr Rajashekar puts forth a sincere performance as the middle-aged man, the throwback to his younger days could have been handled better. Older actors trying to appear young is always a tough act. In the case of Aathmeeya Rajan (as the wife Indu), the reverse is true. While she can carry off the younger portions with ease, her makeup for the older part isn’t effective. 

The romance portions between Muskaan and Rajashekhar also stick out like a sore thumb, with a song thrown in. The songs that punctuate the narrative further slow down the languidly paced film. 

Shekar is a detour from the norm for Telugu cinema and is an earnest attempt. If only it had more spark in the performances and better music.

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 6:01:36 pm |